MRA membership a great value

Can the current economic downturn have any positive outcome for the metal roofing industry? According to a recent Harvard study, the answer appears to be yes.

The Remodeling Market in Transition, the latest report from Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, finds “in today’s uncertain economic environment, owners are likely to focus remodeling spending on projects that improve the energy efficiency of homes, generate cost savings and maintain structural integrity.”

The report found homeowners are shifting from high-end discretionary improvements, such as kitchen and bath upgrades, to those that maintain the efficient functioning of their home, and generate cost savings, such as a new metal roof.

Another survey of residential building product usage by McGraw-Hill, showed the overall residential metal roofing market share is holding firm at 10 percent while the re-roof market share is steady at 11 percent. Metal roofing is one of the only markets that have seen positive growth during this economic downturn.

The Metal Roofing Alliance and its members are constantly looking at new ways to grow our market share and grow the industry as a whole. It is important to note the MRA has always focused on the re-roof market, not new construction. This strategy continues to work well.

The MRA continues to recruit qualified metal roofing contractors. We launched the Find-A-Contractor program to assist consumers in the search for a metal roof. The MRA website, www.metalroofing.com offers a free online service that enables homeowners to find a contractor in their immediate area with just a few clicks of the mouse. The Find-A-Contractor program puts interested consumers in touch with metal roofing contractors and provides contractors with the names and email addresses of targeted leads.

To date, we’ve had many strong contractors join the MRA and they’ve shown tremendous growth in terms of installed squares and overall sales. Tom Black, the executive director of the MRA, recently had the opportunity to attend the Florida Roofing, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association trade show. “Many of the contractors I spoke with reported three-month back logs of roofing projects. Business isn’t just booming in Florida. MRA contractor member, Frank Farmer of American Roofs in Flushing, Michigan reports he just had his best month ever. This is great news.”

In July 2008, we changed the contractor membership levels to provide additional value for all of our members. These new levels have given us the opportunity to develop new programs and materials that our contractor members are finding beneficial.

We’ve developed a series of webinars focused on helping contractors grow their business and become more Internet savvy. “MRA 101,” kicked off the 2009 webinar series. It focused on the background of the MRA, key membership benefits and discussed the lead process. Our new series, titled “The Essentials of Internet Marketing,” is a monthly program that addresses a different topic each month. Some topics that have been covered include:

— The Essentials of Internet Marketing: A Brief Overview

— Website Development and Search Engine Optimization

— Online Lead Generation (Customer Relationship Management)

— Online Banner Ads and Search Engine Marketing

— Social Media and How to Use it Effectively

Other benefits of membership include discounts on training programs, market segmentation kits and the opportunity to receive preferential listing on the MRA website.

Higher energy prices and greater environmental awareness are increasing the demand for green remodeling projects. Combined with the current tax credit, the future of the metal roofing market looks bright.

If you’re interested in joining the MRA, or making more of an existing membership, consider participating in an upcoming free webinar that will explain all the benefits of the MRA. Visit www.metalroofing.com for more information.

Bill Hippard is the president of the MRA and vice president of sales at Precoat Metals.

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